FOUR is a Brooklyn-based collection of chic pieces for your perfect capsule wardrobe for 2023 and beyond. Designers Mae & Ku share how over the last four years, their pieces have been thoughtfully and ethically made.
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It began seventeen years ago in a dorm room at Parsons School of Design. Two women- Mae and Ku- became and remained friends as they began their careers in the fashion industry as designers. Serendipitously, and nearly 2 decades later, chance meetings brought them together again asking the same questions. After making clothes for decades what are the items that have longevity and meaning? What are the pieces that we’d want to have for the rest of our lives? With both women being designers, the questions blossomed into a project- a collection of 4 new pieces for 4 years, appropriately dubbed FOUR.
In the age of fast fashion and a culture where trends, styles, and clothes can be purchased, replaced, and tossed into landfills at the drop of a few dollars, the idea of designing and shopping for longevity is a deviation from the current fashion model. But, it’s so needed. At a glance fast fashion accounts for a big portion of the 80 billion clothing items produced yearly (which is 400% more than in 2000). Around 92 million tons of those new clothes will be in a landfill by the end of the year. At the opposite end of the fast fashion model is slow fashion which promises to reduce waste by creating fewer clothing items that are designed for durability so that they can be worn for years.
“We wanted to create items that age beautifully and that we can mend,” Mae explains. Four years later, FOUR has expanded to a collection of sixteen items that the company repairs or recycles as needed. “If it’s stained or needs to be repaired, we will repair, recycle, or resell it through 4Worn, our resell platform.”
Fashion has a big fossil fuel problem. An estimated 60% of clothes produced are plastic-based materials like polyester that require 342 million barrels of oil yearly to produce. When I viewed FOUR’s collection of chambray button-downs, 3-season trousers, and silk-blend sweaters, I was pleased to notice that Mae & Ku consciously avoided plastic-based and synthetic fibers. Instead, natural fabrics and dyes were used. The Work Shirt is a button-down made from 100% organic cotton. “The trouser is made from Italian RWS merino wool,” Mae says. “The sweater is baby alpaca and silk from a small farm in Peru that has been left in its natural color.” These are luxury fabrics crafted by artisans that answer the design duo’s first question about creating clothes that have longevity. These fabrics become softer with each wear and age beautifully.
Fabrics aside, Mae and Ku also set out to build their dream company. They give 4% of sales to nonprofits that they’ve built connections to as a way to give back to their community. They’ve partnered with Fab Scrap to reduce textile waste. They’ve pledged a commitment to sustainable packaging. And, in 2022, FOUR, became a certified B-Corp company. Yet, despite this commitment to ethical and sustainable fashion, the two are quick to admit that they’ll continue to refine and perfect. Trends aren’t a part of their brand ethos, but quality is. “We always have the opportunity to improve- either with sustainably or design,” Ku explains.
Woven in Italy. Tailored in Portugal
Transparency is a focal point for this luxury B Corp brand. With a Community score of 44.8, FOUR’s business model has been assessed for equity & inclusion, economic impact, supply chain management, and charitable giving.
Crafted from 100% undyed Bactrian camel hair and lined in organic cotton and cupro, this overcoat is made from the finest natural fibers. Expert tailoring ensures that it’s made to be worn season after season. Hidden details like double pockets ensure that you’ll want to.
Finding The Perfect Fit
On a Thursday night, September 27th to be exact, fans of FOUR gathered at the Brooklyn studio to try on, build their perfect capsule wardrobe for 2023 and beyond, and meet the designers. These events, held several times throughout the year, are also a way for Mae & Ku to share new pieces and gather feedback from wearers. “When a garment is created, we have a fit party for every body type possible and they try on before production,” Kue explains.
Size inclusivity is another design key of the brand. Tailoring is done in such a way that some pieces can be purchased in several sizes by the same wearer. “No person is a size. It’s all about personal style,” Ku says. “It’s how you like to have your clothes fit and what are you wearing it for. Sometimes, they can buy it in several sizes and wear it in different ways. It’s a relief not to be pigeonholed and decide for themselves.”
Shop Four Objects
I had the pleasure of having the Foundation Sweater and THE Trouser added to my capsule wardrobe. Expertly tailored and from exceptional materials, each piece has a buttery softness synonymous with luxury brands whose pieces begin in the thousand-dollar price range. So, FOUR kinda feels like a thrill find- expertly-designed pieces from a lesser-known brand.
Since the weather has been unseasonably warm in the Northeast, I haven’t been able to wear the pieces out just yet. But I’ve already found ways to draft them into my closet for fall and winter. The Foundation Sweater will elevate my favorite Re/Done jeans, and it’s just slouchy enough to add a cozy element when layered over my silk slip dresses. As for the pants- the waist will have to be taken in. But once that’s finished, I’m wearing them every day. Yes, they’re that comfortable. Vintage tees will give off that model-off-duty vibe, while a silk blouse and delicate gold jewelry will counter with a quiet luxury aesthetic. As someone who values tried-and-loved pieces from a capsule wardrobe that I can reinvent, I’m excited to add more pieces from FOUR’s collection to mix and match and wear forever.